Spring 2000

Course Description:
How many times were you exposed to mass media today? You probably have heard the statistics: except for the ones who are still bunkered up, waiting for the Y2K fallout, Americans are exposed to hundreds of mass media messages every day. It is now a widely accepted fact that we spend more time consuming mass media than doing anything else, including sleeping, eating, working, or talking to our children (Massey 1999).

It used to be that only a few of us actually worried about the effects of that massive exposure. Some very violent events in the past couple of years (Littleton, e.g.) are fast changing that situation. These days, it seems that no matter where we turn to, someone is blaming the media for society’s violence, especially when children and teenagers are responsible for it.

Are you easily impressed by what you watch on television? Are you one of those people who think TV affects their neighbors but not themselves? What do you think about the claim that children grow up to be violent adults if they watch too much TV? Do you think we become “de-sensitized” to violence by watching too much violent programming?

These are just some of the pressing questions we will be examining in this class. While our discussions will include many different forms of mass media, television is the medium we will be talking about the most.

Service Learning

This is a service learning class. Besides reading about and discussing the social impact of the mass media “theoretically,” we will also engage in direct service in the surrounding community. Our service learning community partners are Usar Chavez Elementary School and the Media Literacy Alliance, Central Coast. Ten class sessions will be conducted at our service learning site, Usar Chavez Elementary School, in Salinas. Those Friday sessions will replace our scheduled Thursday meetings for those weeks.

During those service learning sessions, we will be leading a media literacy workshop that has been specifically designed to raise awareness among grade school children. The workshop will be an after-class activity for children 9 to 12 years old, who have been selected and invited to participate by their teachers and administrators.

You and your classmates will be the ones leading the workshop sessions and facilitating the discussions and other activities involving the children. Attendance to those service learning sessions is mandatory and non-negotiable. (Remember that on those weeks we will be meeting on Fridays, and not Thursdays).

In the weeks preceding the service learning sessions, we will be meeting on campus to discuss and plan the media literacy curriculum we will be using. The Tuesday sessions during the service learning weeks will be dedicated to reflection, planning, and curriculum enhancement. In the weeks following the service learning sessions, we will be meeting on campus to share and reflect on the whole experience. Throughout the semester, we will be also discussing the theoretical aspects related to media consumption, television viewing, and the general content of the course.

Our on-campus meetings will follow the “seminar” style. In other words, don’t expect me to lecture all the time all class members will share responsibilities for a productive learning experience. Make sure you do the assigned readings, and be prepared to engage in lively discussion and sharing of ideas.

Each one of you (with the -help of a classmate) will be responsible for conducting at least one class session, in which the two of you will be expected to be the “experts” on the topic assigned to you. Be knowledgeable, creative and engaging — your classmates and myself will appreciate your effort. (If you need help or suggestions on how to facilitate the discussion, I’ll be happy to talk to you about it).

Possible Outcomes:
This course might be used to fulfill one of the following requirements:

HCOM MLO 5 Critical Cultural Analysis; or
One-third of the Journalism and Media Studies depth concentration.
This class also meets the Culture & Equity ULR requirement for transfer students.
If you’re an HCOM major, the class automatically fulfills your upper division service learning requirement. If you’re not an HCOM major, ask your advisor about the SL requirements for you r major.
For non-HCOM majors, the class can be used for upper division credits.

Outcome-based education:
Some of the goals of this course include:

  • Investigating and explaining relationships among cultural ideologies and sociohistorical experiences, interests, identities, and actions of specific cultural groups.
  • Analyzing different mass communication media (including new media technologies) and their cultural impact on society.
  • Analyzing diverse theories that have been formulated to explain mass media’s social impact.
  • Studying and interpreting various mass media products to better understand how those cultural products influence audiences.
  • Comparing how different cultural, ethnic and social groups have been portrayed by the mass media.

Required readings:

  • Impact of Mass Media: Current Issues, by Ray Eldon Hiebert (ed.).
  • Media /Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, by David Croteau &Williarn Hoynes.

Recommended readings:

  • Television: The Critical View by Horace Newcomb (ed.).
  • Facing Difference: Race, Gender, and Mass Media, by Biagi and Kern-Foxworth (eds.).

No tests or exams are planned for this class. Instead, you will be required to complete the projects described below. Each student should organize a class portfolio, where the assignments (as well as your class notes, observations from the readings, and personal journal) should be kept.

A. Class presentation of assigned topic: You and a classmate will be responsible for leading the discussion of your assigned topic. Each topic will include at least one required reading assigned by the instructor. If you want to assign any additional readings for your session, make sure you do that in a timely manner. Be creative and engaging in your presentation. This assignment was designed to assess outcomes # 3, 4 and 5. Due date: Throughout the semester.

B. Personal Journal: You will keep a journal where you will record your service learning experience, as well as your general feelings about the- class, the readings, the discussions, our service learning “clients,” and anything else relevant to the learning experience. Make sure to keep detailed records of each service learning session, including your very first impressions of the site and the children. Be sincere and creative -the journal is meant to help you reflect on the whole learning experience. Be sure to record your accomplishments, realizations and breakthroughs, as well as your frustrations and difficulties. You will turn in your journals to me at least three times during the semester. Assignment will assess outcomes # 1 and 5. Due date: Feb. 29, Mar. 28, and Apr. 25.

C. Reflective Essay: At the end of the semester, you will write a reflective essay in which you will describe and analyze your class experience. The essay will be at least five pages long, and it should contain an honest assessment of your service learning experience, as well as an appraisal of what you learned throughout the semester. The personal journal should help you to write a thorough and thoughtful reflective essay. Assignment will assess outcomes #1, 2 and 3. Due date: May 11.

Grade Distribution:
Attendance /Participation 10%
Class Presentation 30%
Personal Journal 30%
Reflective Essay 30%

NOTE: Attendance to both class and service learning sessions is mandatory. Each absence to an on-campus session will be deducted from your class participation grade. Unjustified absences to one service learning session or four or more on-campus class sessions will result in a failing grade.

Anticipated Schedule:

Week Date Time Activity Place

  1. Jan. 27 4 PM Introduction to Class CSUMB
    Syllabus and Schedule Review
    Group and presentation assignments
  2. Feb. 1 4 PM Media and the Social World CSUMB
    (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 1)
    How to enter/exit communities sensitively
    Feb. 3 4 PM Introduction to “Beyond Blame” CSUMB
    Movie: “The Truman Show”
  3. Feb. 8 4 PM Economics of the Media Industry CSUMB
    (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch.2) and “The Empire Strikes,” by Ben Bagdikian
    Feb. 10 4 PM Planning Lessons 1, 2 and 3 CSUMB
    Feb. 12 8:30 AM Parent Orientation/ Parent Hour CCES
    9:30 AM Orientation to CCES for CSUMB students
  4. Feb. 15 4 PM Social Inequality and Media Representation CSUMB
    (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 5) and “Is It Just Me, Or Do All These Women Look Like Barbie?,” by Sheila Gibbons
    Talk about your Media journal I
    Feb. 17 4 PM Planning Lessons 4, 5 and 6 CSUMB
  5. Feb. 22 4 PM Media and Ideology CSUMB (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 6); and “Prime Time Ideology,” by Todd Gitlin
    Feb. 24 No on-campus meeting
    Feb. 26 3 PM SL Session # 1 CCES
  6. Feb. 29 4 PM Active Audiences and Construction of CSUMB
    Meaning (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 8) and “Understanding Television Audiencehood,” by Len Ang
    Talk about your Media journal II
    First journal submission due
    Mar. 2 — No on-campus meeting
    Mar. 3 3 PM SL Session # 2 CCES
  7. Mar. 7 4 PM Media in a Changing Global Culture CSUMB
    (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 10) and “The Growing Power of Mass Media,” by RayEldon Hiebert
    Mar. 9 No on-campus meeting
    Mar. 10 3 PM SL Session # 3 CCES
  8. Mar. 14 4 PM “Television as a Cultural Forum,” CSUMB by Horace Newcomb & Paul Hirsch; and “Television Viewing as a Cultural Practice,” by Michael Saenz
    Mar. 16 No on-campus meeting
    Mar. 17 3 PM SL Session # 4 CCES
  9. Mar.22-24;No class SPRING BREAK!!!
    Mar. 25 No SL No SL session (Our Break)
  10. Mar. 28 4 PM “Conceptualizing Culture as Commodity,” by Eileen Meehan
    Second journal Submission
    Mar. 30 4 PM No on-campus meeting CSUMB
    Mar. 31 No SL SL session # 5
  11. Apr. 4 4 PM Conceptualizing Television Violence: CSUMB
    George Gerbner and Cultivation Theory (Handouts)
    Apr. 6 No on-campus meeting
    Apr. 7 – 3 PM SL Session # 6 CCES
  12. April 11 – 4 PM Planning sessions 7 and 8 and Reflection CSUMB
    No on-campus meeting
    April 14. – 3 PM SL Session # 7 CCES
  13. Apr. 18 – 4 PM Conceptualizing Television Violence: CSUMB
    Third Person Effect and “Magic bullet” theories (Handouts)
    Apr. 20 -4 PM “The Beauty Machine,” by Jeff Yang and Angelo Ragaza; and “Don’t Blink: Hispanics in Television Entertainment,” by The National Council of La Raza
    April 24- ——No SL Session (CCES Spring Break)
  14. April 25–4 PM “Lesbian and Gay Press,” by Rodger Streitmatter; “Gay Economy Lures Dollars of Major Advertisers,” by Brett Chase; and
    “Stonewalled: Advertisers Are Ignoring the Homosexual Community,” by Tom Weisend
    Last journal submission due
    Apr. 27— No on-campus meeting
    Apr. 28 4p.m. SL Session # 8 and Graduation Closing Ceremony
  15. May 2 -4 PM “Roseanne: Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess,” by Kathleen Rowe; and”Television and Gender,” by David Morley
    May 4- 4 PM “Only in Glimpses: Portrayal of America’s Largest Minority Groups, by Carolyn Martindale; and “Racial Stereotyping and the Media,” by M.L. Stein
  16. May 9 -4 PM “Television, Black Americans, and the American Dream,” by Herman Gray; and “A TV Generation is Seeing Beyond Color,” by Nancy Hass